We were addressed by three Abrahamics, including the imam of the Islamic Center, Abdullah Khouj, who has had this position since the 1980s.
Rabbi Jack Moline and Rev. Bill Haley stood together on the podium to deliver short speeches, insisting on the unceremonious nomenclature "Jack" and "Bill."
Jack told us a wonderful story about two sisters condemned to a concentration camp during World War II. One was sickly and the other healthy. The sickly one told the healthy sister that she must survive the ordeal. Her last words were "God's love is deeper than this evil." That is the message the well sister was able to take back, because she did survive, miraculously rescued.
Echoing this, Bill told us that real love comes from a place deeper than evil.
Renowned author, independent scholar, and activist Karen Armstrong told us to resolve that 9/11 would never happen again. We need more compassion in life, both private and public. "Compassion" literally means materializing the Golden Rule--putting ourselves in another's shoes.
"The voice of religion must be clear and dynamic," she said. We're bound together by the Internet and world economy. One market crashes and the domino effect brings down the others.
She is engaged in a project of building a network of compassionate cities; there are fifty so far, and the District is on deck to join, she said.
We must reach out to our "enemies."
Think, as you resume the walk, that you must become the change you wish to see in the world. This time the popular St. Augustine's Gospel Choir sang as Arun Gandhi led our march back toward the statue of his grandfather.
Once we arrived to the statue, and once Arun spoke (see above), Rev. Clark Lobenstine, Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington pledged to become peacemaker not just until the end of this year but throughout his life. The people cheered as he urged us to join him.
Altaf Husain, member of the Islamic Society of North America, told us next that no religion can ever be subverted to evil. Religion can't be hijacked.
He recalled sadly how people ran into the towers on 9/11 when they were struck, nearly as often as they exited.
He quoted the Qu'ran: If you take one life, it is as if you have killed all people; and if you save one life, it is as if you have saved all of humanity.